On October 25, 2023, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous support of eleven volunteers, who were awarded with a 2023 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, for their remarkable commitment to our clients and for championing our team’s mission to advance access to justice. Congratulations!

Immigrant Justice Project: Keun Young Bae, Senior Associate at WilmerHale

The Immigrant Justice Project assists asylum seekers fleeing persecution, survivors of violent crimes and trafficking, and individuals seeking humanitarian protection and other relief.     

Keun Young Bae, senior associate at WilmerHale, has been a passionate and committed volunteer with our Immigrant Justice Project since 2018. A skilled litigator, she has represented immigration clients in challenging matters ranging from T-visas and asylum appeals to removal proceedings, affirmative asylum claims, and more. As the 2021 WilmerHale Pickering Fellow with the Justice Center, Keun Young undertook a T-visa denial amid hostile policy changes for trafficking survivors who applied for T-visas years after escaping their traffickers. Her client, a woman from India who had been labor trafficked by her employers and still suffered physical and psychological effects many years later, risked losing her only viable route to regularizing her immigration status. Keun Young seamlessly handled both the client-facing and legal aspects of the case. She was able to locate and refer the client to supportive services. She also wrote a compelling appeal brief showing how the trafficking continued to affect the client’s daily functioning, even 18 years later. Her arguments swayed the appellate agency, which is no mean feat as it sustains only about 12.5% of all T-visa appeals. Her client will now be eligible to apply for a green card. 

 Keun Young also successfully appealed an asylum denial on behalf of a Kichwa, indigenous Ecuadorian who had been persecuted on behalf of his political activities.  Earlier this month, she also won a hotly contested case in immigration court on behalf of a bisexual asylum seeker from Ghana, where same sex relationships are illegal and an even more extreme anti-LGBTQ bill under consideration may soon require citizens to report LGBTQ people to authorities. Following multiple, vicious homophobic attacks, the client fled to the U.S. seeking protection, only to be immediately locked up for three months in a detention center in Mississippi. After helping her client file his initial asylum application in 2021, Keun Young continued to work with her client to support his claim. She not only drafted a comprehensive affidavit and persuasive memorandum of law, but she also obtained psychological and forensic expert opinions from his treating physicians at a program for torture survivors, as well as other corroborating evidence. With her client now safe from deportation, Keun Young will be assisting her client to apply for his green card and reunite with his family. Keun Young continues to represent two other asylum seekers whose humanitarian claims remain pending. 

Given her unwavering and brilliant advocacy, our Immigrant Justice Project is proud to present Keun Young Bae with our 2023 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award.